According to a local newspaper article, Oostanaula United Methodist Church was once a tiny congregation in comparison to others around Floyd County. At one time it only had five members who attended, and pastors came from other churches to conduct ceremonies. However, the church is breathing new life into the 144 year old structure on Battey Farm Road as their congregation has grown from that tiny number to an average of 60-70 people attending on Sunday mornings.
According to the Methodist archives “Indenture was made November 29, 1871 by Solomon L. and Joanna E. Pope, formerly of Crawford in the state of Georgia. Charter members were Jonathon Cowan, Caleb White, Marcellus L. Troutman, Hnery B. Pope, Andrew J. Watters, James S. Troutman and S. J. Henley, Mr. and Mrs. H. L. Pope”. The Pope family donated the land for the church and cemetery. Local history tells us that Solomon and Joanna were also related to Joanna Troutman Pope, known as the “Betsy Ross of Texas” as well as the “Lady of Goliad”.
In 1850, the seventeen year old daughter of Colonel and Mrs. Hiram Baldwin Troutman, fashioned the Texas Lone Star Flag from her silk skirts. In 1835, 150 middle Georgia soldiers marched to Texas to assist in the fight against Mexico. When they passed through Knoxville, Joanna presented the flag to Colonel William Ward on the steps of the Troutman Inn, later known as the Harris Hotel. The flag flew during the battle of Goliad and later was recognized as Texas’ official flag. Joanna is buried in Austin, Texas, next to a bronze figure of herself, sculpted by Pompeo Coppini.
As you saw in the introductory photo, the exterior of Oostanaula Methodist remains as it has been for the 144+ years of its existence. You also read that the congregation had dwindled to five in the 20th century but had been revivified in recent years. This view of the modified and modernized interior gives evidence of why the attendance has bounced up. By adding electricity, air conditioning, insulation, carpet, bathroom facilities and other amenities, Oostanaula was able to attract new attendees and rebuild its congregation by providing modern day creature comforts. This trend up continues into the 21st Century, and we expect this meeting house to be the church home for many Methodists for decades to come.
This view of the chancel area and pulpit reflects the plain tastes of these Methodists. The pulpit is a well finished but simple plywood affair. The preacher's chair is angular with minor decoration, cloth seat and back. We do see that modern amplification technology is employed to insure all can hear the word.
We were touched by this view to the back of the church. As it is throughout the sanctuary, no icons, unnecessary decoration or ostentation is seen. Robes are quietly draped on the simplest of coat hooks awaiting the moment when they will be pulled on, begin their duty and the choir commences to walk forward singing and greeting all with welcome to the timeless ritual. Amen.
This is a black and white photograph of the meeting house taken when the building was turning eighty years old. Little has changed regarding the physical presence of the building in the intervening sixty five years or so. On the other hand, great strides have been taken by the congregation itself, and today, Oostanaula stands as a monument to the tenacity of its flock and the love they have shown for their church.
The church sits on land carved from the Pope Family farm. Close to the the church is the beautiful, rural resting place of Joanna Elizabeth Pope. Joanna was the daughter of H. B. and M. E. Pope. She died in 1882 at the age of twelve. Her final resting place has changed little even though she has been interred here for over 130 years.
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Pleasant Grove United Methodist Church in Forsyth County Georgia was established in 1871. We are a small congregation with 70 to 80 people attending each Sunday. Plans are being made to celebrate the church’s 150 year anniversary May 2, 2021. Throughout the years, members of the congregation have written down stories of the founding fathers, pastors, missions and other stories. The church buildings have been renovated. The church campus includes the sanctuary, clubhouse, fellowship hall, parsonage and a cemetery. it is my hope that a formal book can be written to include the important facts and remember the treasures of the church. Does your organization have a template for how to write a book about the history of a church?
We do not but that is a wonderful effort you are making. We will ask around and get back to you if we find something. Good luck on a worthwhile endeavor.